Persuasive Authority

One of the things that Professor Bonny Tavares likes the most about Temple Law is the school’s embrace of students who may not have thought law school was a possibility for them: first generation college graduates, people with busy careers and family responsibilities, and other “nontraditional” students. In fact, Tavares identifies so strongly with the Conwellian mission of the school that the Howard Law graduate sometimes forgets she isn’t a Temple graduate herself. This passion for enhanced diversity in law school and the legal profession is in part what inspired Tavares to pursue a career teaching what she describes as the “key course” in most law schools – Legal Research and Writing.

“LRW is the course that teaches you how to succeed in every other course and in your professional pursuits after graduation,” Tavares explains. “It’s about learning to conduct structured analyses and then to present those analyses in writing.” It’s also a course that’s taken very seriously at Temple Law, where the nationally ranked LRW program is stacked with prestigious scholars whose work focuses on the nuts and bolts of transforming law students into successful lawyers.

Tavares has made that transformation the focus of her own scholarship and teaching as well. In addition to co-authoring Pennsylvania Legal Research, Tavares has performed extensive research into the most effective strategies for teaching Legal Research and Writing to evening and part-time students. She is also pursuing a comprehensive analysis of the briefs submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States by every Solicitor General since the second Reagan administration, looking for patterns that can become lessons in persuasion for aspiring appellate advocates. Research like this “highlights the importance of written advocacy,” explains Tavares. “Often, there is an emphasis on oral advocacy that overlooks the equally important role good legal writing has to play in persuading judicial audiences.”

Of course, good oral advocacy gets the spotlight for a reason, and needs to be a part of every successful lawyer’s toolkit. To that end, Tavares – herself a Moot Court champion at Howard – serves as an advisor to Temple’s award-winning Moot Court team. In this role, Tavares is able to take a hands-on approach to shaping the persuasive techniques and skills of Temple’s best appellate advocates. It’s a satisfying opportunity, she says, to “see firsthand what progress students have made since taking LRW in their first year.” It’s also a chance to reinforce to students that at Temple, learning continues even after the classes end. In fact, Tavares notes that the best students are often the ones who “spend time with professors – use office hours, ask questions, seek clarifications.” Accessibility is a priority throughout the Temple Law faculty, so Tavares is confident that any student who takes this advice will be well rewarded for it.

Whether it happens in the heat of trial or the logic of an insightful brief, every moment of persuasive advocacy is grounded firmly in the legal research and writing skills taught by Professor Bonny Tavares and her LRW colleagues at Temple Law. They, together with the rest of the law faculty, have long delighted in shaping talented law students from all walks of life into polished, confident advocates who are well prepared for success. After all, at the end of the day, there is simply no arguing with that.